Lily Tomlin et al.

Comedienne Lily Tomlin and her colorful cast of “classic” characters comes to Minneapolis.

Martina Marosi

WHAT: An Evening of Classic Lily Tomlin

WHERE: State Theatre

WHEN: Sunday, Feb. 13, 7 p.m.

COST: $42- $52

Generation Y may only know her as the voice of Ms. Frizzle on âÄúThe Magic School Bus,âÄù but virtuoso comedienne, actress and performer Lily Tomlin had long before made a lasting mark on the world of comedy. On Feb. 13, Tomlin will bring her inimitable one-woman show to Minneapolis.

The showâÄôs âÄúclassicâÄù designation may be somewhat misleading.

âÄúItâÄôs a compilation of characters IâÄôve done over all these decades, but the material is not necessarily that material,âÄù Tomlin said.

TomlinâÄôs fans are sure to find their old favorites, such as incorrigible gossip, Ernestine, and mischievous child Edith Ann, but theyâÄôll find Tomlin has tailored her charactersâÄô contexts to suit the changing times.

âÄúI certainly try to keep everything relevant,âÄù Tomlin said. âÄúErnestine has been working at a health care insurance corp for a while now, you know, denying health care to everybody, and she also has a reality-based webcast chat show.âÄù

Tomlin created Ernestine while living in New York in the âÄô60s. She found herself among the many who were frustrated with AT&TâÄôs deteriorating service and its âÄúnefarious political shenanigansâÄùwith the Watergate scandal. Tomlin responded with a humorous take on the company by parodying it in the form of a nosy telephone operator.

âÄúShe threatened people and got all that information and wielded all that petty bureaucratic power,âÄù Tomlin said.

Since her television debut on âÄúLaugh-In,âÄù a seminal âÄô60s and âÄô70s sketch comedy show, Ernestine has become a cultural icon.

When satirizing the wiretapping performed by the Bush administration, political cartoonists frequently drew Ernestine into their panels.

A Tomlin character comes into the world in many ways.Whether it is her âÄúRubber Freak,âÄù the woman with an erratic rubber-eating habit, created out of TomlinâÄôs obsession with inedible substances, or Tommy Velour, the Vegas headliner invented specifically to lampoon Las Vegas, TomlinâÄôs innumerable stage personalities are illustrative of her highly generative performance style.

Tomlin uses her many characters as unique instruments with which she articulates her commentary on specific cultural niches.

âÄúSome culture types are people you want to do because you see them âÄî you kind of just love them, you know?âÄù

The âÄúclassicâÄù evening of Lily Tomlin will surely feature her iconic standby stage personas, but Tomlin will also be delivering fresh and relevant content and experimenting with new material.

âÄúI want it to be an exhilarating experience âÄî I mean, thatâÄôs my objective. It doesnâÄôt mean it has to be so polished.âÄù

When it comes to the creation and portrayal of any new culture-types, Tomlin feels it takes an intimate familiarity before she can feel comfortable performing them.

âÄúYou come to another group that IâÄôm not terribly experienced with âÄî I wouldnâÄôt feel that I knew them enough to do it from the inside out,âÄù she said. âÄúYou just have to live the life a bit.âÄù

Raised in a black neighborhood in Detroit, Tomlin refers to her life experience when crossing racial boundaries in her performances.

âÄúI never felt any reservation about playing black characters, because I felt like I understood that culture in a way that authenticated me doing it,âÄù she said.

TomlinâÄôs career has spanned five decades, crossed all disciplines and genres and touched all levels of prestige. Considering her invention of innumerable iconic characters and an extensive body of work, one might think Tomlin lays claim to a driving force that sets her apart from the regular person, but she says itâÄôs very much the opposite.

âÄúIâÄôm just like any other poor old human on the planet trying to make sense of it,âÄù she said.